Cisco Learning Games: More than Just Entertainment
Why is a large high tech company like Cisco interested in games? Sure, games are fun. And yes, Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games like Everquest or Final Fantasy eat up lots of bandwidth, which fuels Internet growth. But is there something more to this interest in gaming?
The Learning@Cisco group is responsible for Cisco Certifications one of the best IT certification programs in the world. Our main focus is to help people prepare for jobs in the real world by providing resources for becoming Cisco Certified. So why games? Is it just to give learners a little break from studying, or is there more to a learning game?
Games can teach? You're kidding!
Some people I have met think the term " learning game" is an oxymoron. However, if you think about it, all games require some form of learning. A chess master spends years learning strategies while golfers are always working on ways to shave a stroke or two off their score. Even the simplest of games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Hide-and-Seek require players to learn a winning tactic or special knowledge to be successful. Sports superstars have usually learned to be excellent strategists and leaders.
What if I told you that the video game industry actually figured out ways to teach that are often better than traditional education? This is a premise in the book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by Dr. James Gee of the University of Wisconsin. He explains how video games provide players a more interactive experience, high motivation, and the ability to proceed at their own pace. This leads to higher retention of the knowledge and skills presented in the game. Often these are skills that can be used outside of the game. For example, surgeons who played video games like Monkey Ball three hours a week made about 37% fewer surgical errors and performed 27% faster than their counterparts who did not play video games. (Associated Press: April 7, 2004). This type of video game honed the hand-eye coordination needed to be a successful surgeon.
Here’s another example. In 2004, Yahoo hired a new senior director of engineering operations. What gave him the edge over the other applicants? The leadership skills he had developed as one of the top guild masters in World of Warcraft (Wired Magazine, April 2006).
If you try out Rock Band you could master the principles of rhythm. Learn to dance with Dance Dance Revolution. Play Sudoku to improve math skills and Bookworm to reinforce good spelling. You may be surprised to know that one of the first video games was developed over 40 years ago by the military to teach aviation. Today most of us have seen or played one of these Flight Simulator games or ‘driven’ some other form of virtual vehicle.